WINNIPEG - A recently retired Air Canada pilot and his wife had just begun a new life a year before they were killed in a Nevada air show crash, his mother said.
George Hewitt, 60, and his 57-year-old wife Wendy were among 10 people killed when a vintage military plane slammed into the ground at the National Championship Air Races at the Reno Stead Airport last Friday.
Rose Hewitt, 84, said from Winnipeg that the couple had moved from Washington state to Fort Mohave, Ariz., last year after her son retired from Air Canada in December.
She said Hewitt had been a fanatic about airplanes all his life and was fulfilling one of his dreams by moving to a community where he could fly right to his front door.
"He had his own private plane next to his garage," she said. "All the people who live there have their own plane. He was doing acrobatics in the states with planes."
Even as a child, Hewitt was trying to get things to fly, breaking many toys in the process, his mother chuckled and then sobbed.
"Oh, what a time. It's not fair."
She said her son's remains were identified by his fingerprints, which were taken when he started the job with Air Canada 38 years ago. He retired as a captain of the Boeing 777.
"We heard something wasn't right Friday night," Hewitt said. "The next day my daughter showed up at Deer Lodge. She said, 'Oh, something's wrong Mom. We don't know what it is, where he is or whether he's alive or not.'
"I just broke right down, I couldn't help myself. It shouldn't be that way, it shouldn't be that way."
The family found out two days later that Hewitt's wife was also killed.
"So it was really, really bad," she said.
The couple left behind two adult children each from previous marriages.
Hewitt said her son's daughter and his wife's daughter-in-law are both due to have babies soon.
The couple were among a crowd watching a 1940s-era plane when it crashed to the ground.
The P-51 Mustang came down near the grandstand at the Reno air show, killing several people instantly and injuring dozens more with flying debris.
Hewitt, who was born and raised in Winnipeg, always seemed to have a need for speed and raced boats in his younger years, his mother said.
He almost died at age five of septicemia, a bacteria in the blood, she said.
"Had penicillin not come out right then he likely would have died. He has lived a good life now."
- By Terri Theodore in Vancouver